On­tario judge who wore trump hat in court sus­pended with­out pay for 30 days

North Bay Nugget - - NATIONAL NEWS - Paola lorig­gio

toronto — an on­tario judge who wore a hat in court bear­ing don­ald trump’s “make amer­ica great again” slo­gan has been sus­pended with­out pay af­ter an over­sight body ruled his be­hav­iour con­sti­tuted a “sin­gle aber­rant and in­ex­pli­ca­ble act of ju­di­cial mis­con­duct.”

In a de­ci­sion re­leased tues­day, the on­tario Ju­di­cial Coun­cil said it strug­gled to rec­on­cile Justice bernd Za­bel’s ac­tions with his stel­lar record as a judge, and found his con­duct war­ranted the most se­ri­ous rep­ri­mand pos­si­ble short of re­mov­ing him from the bench.

“Justice Za­bel’s con­duct that day gave rise to a per­cep­tion by many that he was a trump sup­porter and that he agreed with trump’s views and poli­cies. In do­ing so, he vi­o­lated a fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of ju­di­cial ethics and, par­tic­u­larly in view of the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing trump’s cam­paign, en­gaged in se­ri­ous mis­con­duct,” the coun­cil panel wrote.

“his con­duct on nov. 9, 2016 was com­pletely at odds with the ex­em­plary judge he has been for the past 27 years. We are sat­is­fied that Justice Za­bel does not hold any of the dis­crim­i­na­tory views that the com­plainants at­tribute to don­ald trump,” it said.

the coun­cil re­ceived 81 com­plaints about the in­ci­dent, in­clud­ing sev­eral it said ex­pressed con­cerns that peo­ple from vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties would fear they would not be treated fairly by a judge who sup­ported trump. this, be­cause of the u.s. pres­i­dent’s “many well-pub­li­cized state­ments per­ceived to in­di­cate misog­y­nis­tic, racist, anti-mus­lim, anti-im­mi­grant and ho­mo­pho­bic views,” it said.

how­ever, the coun­cil said, “we are sat­is­fied that mem­bers of vul­ner­a­ble groups need have no fear about the treat­ment they would re­ceive from Justice Za­bel.”

Za­bel will be sus­pended for 30 days. the on­tario Court of Justice said in Jan­uary that Za­bel, who is based in hamil­ton, was no longer be­ing as­signed cases.

at his hear­ing last month, Za­bel said he meant to lighten the mood by wear­ing a base­ball cap with the trump slo­gan while walk­ing into court on nov. 9, 2016 — the day af­ter trump won the u.s. elec­tion.

he tes­ti­fied that it was only af­ter his ac­tions made head­lines that he re­al­ized some be­lieved he was show­ing sup­port for the con­tro­ver­sial amer­i­can pres­i­dent and his poli­cies.

Za­bel wore the hat while walk­ing into a court­room and said it was “just in cel­e­bra­tion of a his­toric night in the united states,” ac­cord­ing to an agreed state­ment of facts. he then took it off and placed it on the dais un­til the break, when he took it back to his of­fice, the doc­u­ment says.

When asked about the hat’s dis­ap­pear­ance later, Za­bel quipped that he had taken it off be­cause it had an­gered other judges who “all voted for hil­lary,” ac­cord­ing to the agreed state­ment of facts. “I was the only trump sup­porter up there, but that’s oK,” he said.

Za­bel later apol­o­gized pub­licly for his be­hav­iour, call­ing it a “lapse in judg­ment.”

the judge tes­ti­fied at his hear­ing that he meant to say he was mark­ing an un­prece­dented his­toric event rather than cel­e­brat­ing trump’s vic­tory, and was sim­ply “gloat­ing” at hav­ing pre­dicted the out­come of the elec­tion bet­ter than his col­leagues.

THE AS­So­CI­ATED PRESS fIlES

In this June 1, 2016, photo, then Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump wears his “Make Amer­ica Great Again” hat at a rally in Sacramento, Calif. An On­tario judge who wore a hat in court bear­ing a slo­gan used by Trump was sus­pended with­out pay for 30 days.

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